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  • Joe Steenholdt

Acts 17:22–28 - Continuous Creation

God not only created all things, but He continues to uphold and direct His creation!

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Read Acts 17:22-28

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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 27

Q What do you understand

by the providence of God?

A. Providence is

the almighty and ever present power of God

by which he upholds, as with his hand,

heaven and earth

and all creatures,

and so rules them that

leaf and blade,

rain and drought,

fruitful and lean years,

food and drink,

health and sickness,

prosperity and poverty—

all things, in fact, come to us

not by chance

but from his fatherly hand.



As Paul walked the streets of Athens in the First Century, he was struck by how idols were around every corner and temples dedicated to various gods. Since Alexander expanded the empire, Greece had been increasingly in contact with the religions of Egypt, Persia, and other regions. While the traditional Greek gods dominated the cityscape, the intellectuals of Athens were always ready to hear something new (Acts 17:21).

Novelty was the name of the game, and Stoicism and Epicureanism were the leading philosophies of developing thought. They may have known of God from religious discussions but would not have truly known God.

Paul sees their altar dedicated to an ‘unknown god’ unveiling an ignorance of the true God of heaven and earth.

Paul is perceptive of what common ground he can build off of to pique the skeptics’ interest, but then he refutes their views by sharing with them the truth of the living God who not only created the universe but is still actively preserving the world.

In Acts 17, Paul reminds us how closely connected God as Creator is to providence. That is why the Heidelberg Catechism seamlessly moves from Q&A 26, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth,” to Q&A 27, “What do you understand by the providence of God?”

In Zacharias Ursinus’ (one of the original authors of the Heidelberg Catechism) commentary on Lord’s Day 10, he noted, “the subject of the providence of God is nothing else than a continuation of the creation; because the government of the world is the preservation of the things created by God.” Creation is dependent on the Creator. Creatureliness implies reliance on the Creator who gives life. In Paul’s speech on Mars Hill, he confirms God’s providential activity in creation (17:24), in providing (17:25), sustaining and directing human life (17:26, 28).

Dig Deeper

Despite God’s active upholding of the universe, it can be easy as His creatures to forget that everything we know in this world is preserved by His hand. Humans have grappled throughout the ages with the question of where life comes from and what life is. When Paul addresses the Athenians, he reminds us that life is rooted and grounded in God. There would be no life apart from Him.

Stoicism and Epicureanism may not captivate as many of our neighbors today, but there is still a collision between Christianity and paganism regarding the source of life. It is more readily accepted in culture today that everything came from a big bang, and life evolved from lesser life forms over time. With that view, the universe and human affairs have no inherent purpose or goal but are a simply a product of random chance.

Yet all know there is something more than pure luck in life. Paul tells the skeptics in Athens that providence leads people to seek God, for He is not far from each one of us (17:27). Sin has broken the close communion with our Creator God, who made human beings in His image. But thanks be to God, He has provided a way back by reconciling believers through Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The Creator God who is powerfully present in preserving all of life

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Does God seem near or far? Seek His guidance and that you show evidence of being His offspring



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Hebrews 2


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